Posts Tagged “healthcare”

And Jesus WeptTrouble’s been brewing in Waterbury, CT for some time. Its two hospitals spent more than a year trying to negotiate a merger. The proposed deal would have benefitted the hospitals — because they’ve both been losing money for a while — as well as the people of Waterbury, because they’d get a new, bigger and better hospital once the merger took place. But one of the two hospitals, St Mary’s, is Catholic, which meant the R.C. Church was involved. Finally, as the Hartford Courant reports, the archdiocese of Hartford proved intransigent and saw fit to derail this deal (WebCite cached article):

Waterbury Hospital officials have abandoned their quest to merge with St. Mary’s Hospital, concluding after more than a year of negotiations that it would be impossible to comply with the Catholic hospital’s directives on birth control.

“We confronted numerous challenges and obstacles that made it difficult for both of the hospitals in Waterbury to remain true to their respective missions,” Darlene Stromstad, president and CEO of Waterbury Hospital, said in a statement released Saturday. “The objectives that needed to be satisfied in order to proceed — particularly as they relate to our efforts to comply with the Ethical and Religious Directives of the Catholic Church — were too many and too insurmountable to allow us to realize our goal.

“We’ve come to the conclusion it simply isn’t going to work.”

It’s not as though the management of both hospitals hadn’t been trying, for over a year, to get this deal to work, as the Courant explains:

To resolve the thorny issue of birth control, a proposal was made to build a “hospital within a hospital” — a separate, independently operated facility within the hospital building — that would provide reproductive health services prohibited by Catholic doctrine. But that plan was rejected by Hartford Archbishop Henry Mansell.

The archdiocese went so far as to come up with another scenario, that would have placed women’s lives at risk:

Officials also considered an idea for an ambulatory surgical center near — but not part of — the main hospital campus. But that would have been problematic for some women seeking tubal ligations, a surgical form of birth control that is barred in Catholic hospitals. Tubal ligations are often performed after C-sections, and in those cases, women receiving C-sections in the main hospital would have had to be sewn up and transported to the satellite facility for the second surgery.

Diocesan officials approved the idea of a wholly separate facility, but state officials ultimately rejected the proposal because the facility would not be equipped to serve women who are considered high risk.

Now, the average rational thinker would ask the obvious question of why the R.C. Church would want to endanger women’s lives over its dogmatism. But I know better than to even ask this question. The Church has already gone on record as considering the lives of women of child-bearing age forfeit. Where their dogma and a woman’s life are concerned, they happily choose dogma over life. The Church and its princes are viciously, hatefully misogynistic. There’s no other way to put it, so I won’t even try. I will simply state it clearly and succinctly: The Catholic Church wants women to die unnecessarily.

In any event, the management of Waterbury Hospital clearly deserves kudos for taking a stand against the Church and its effort to destroy the lives of women in the Waterbury area. They refused to knuckle under to Archbishop Mansell, and called off this merger, despite their own institution’s financial peril.

Photo credit: Termin8er, via Flickr.

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Jesus Facepalm: He gave up too so please stop this foolishness… if their lives are threatened by pregnancy complications. That’s right: Roman Catholic doctrine holds that pregnant women’s lives are forfeit. Proof of this insane doctrine comes in the form of an Arizona hospital losing its affiliation with the Church because it chose to save the life of a mother. The Houston Chronicle reports on this travesty (WebCitation cached article):

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix stripped a major hospital of its affiliation with the church Tuesday because of a surgery that ended a woman’s pregnancy to save her life. …

“In the decision to abort, the equal dignity of mother and her baby were not both upheld,” [Phoenix bishop Thomas] Olmsted said at a news conference announcing the decision. “The mother had a disease that needed to be treated. But instead of treating the disease, St. Joseph’s medical staff and ethics committee decided that the healthy, 11-week-old baby should be directly killed.”

Unfortunately, the hospital staff didn’t really have this choice. They had no time. The mother was fading fast. For what it’s worth, the hospital is not apologetic about this, and even in spite of this institutional excommunication, they’re standing by what they did:

Linda Hunt, president of St. Joseph’s, said doctors performed a necessary procedure on a patient who was getting worse by the minute and was in imminent danger of death.

“If we are presented with a situation in which a pregnancy threatens a woman’s life, our first priority is to save both patients. If that is not possible, we will always save the life we can save, and that is what we did in this case,” Hunt said. “Morally, ethically, and legally, we simply cannot stand by and let someone die whose life we might be able to save.”

Hospital management considered the bishop’s demands extreme and would not give in:

Dr. Charles Alfano, chief medical officer at the hospital and an obstetrician there, said Olmsted was asking the impossible from the hospital.

“Specifically the fact that [Bishop Olmsted] requested we admit the procedure performed was an abortion and that it was a violation of the ethical and religious directives and that we would not perform such a procedure in the future,” he said. “We could not agree to that. We acted appropriately.”

The reason the bishop was so incensed about what St Joseph’s did? It was the “scandal” produced by it:

“They have not addressed in an adequate manner the scandal caused by the abortion,” [Olmsted] said.

That’s right, folks. The bishop didn’t cut off the hospital over the abortion per se, but over the “scandal” it produced.

Well, Bishop, may I suggest you’ve already got your hands full of one major multinational scandal already … you might consider resolving that in a candid, upright, and moral manner — before demanding any other scandal be dealt with.

And this is a lesson to any expecting mothers out there … beware of being treated in a Catholic hospital, should you have any problems before birth. Not all of them will be like St Joseph’s and fight the Church to save your life.

Photo credit: Demotivators.

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Pastor Wiley S. DrakeThis past summer I blogged about the creepy but popular southern California preacher Wiley Drake praying for God to kill Barack Obama. With the passage of healthcare reform, he’s added to his list of imprecatory-prayer targets, as the Daily Beast reports (WebCite cached article):

As Randy Neugebauer cops to shouting “baby killer” on the House floor, a pastor who ran for VP with Alan Keyes has asked for the death of all 219 Democrats who voted for yesterday’s bill.

The vitriol stemming from yesterday’s health-care vote—from Randy Neugebauer’s shout of “baby-killer” aimed at pro-life Democrat Bart Stupak on the House floor to slurs shouted at John Lewis and Barney Frank from crowds outside the Capitol building—has reached a new apex: a call for the death of all 219 Democrats who voted for the bill, through the power of prayer.

Orange Country Pastor Wiley Drake fired off an email to his supporters this morning, telling them that all 219 Democrats have been placed on the “imprecatory prayer list.” “We’ll remember in November and pray Psalms [sic] 109 while waiting,” he urged, before listing each offending congressman by name in “Satan’s domain in Washington D.C.”

Here’s a link to Psalm 109, if you care to read it. It’s essentially a long, whiney prayer that God strike down some horrible enemy and leave his children fatherless and his wife a widow (Ps 109:9). I discussed this particular psalm and its political uses earlier; have a look, if you wish.

What a marvelous, enlightened, compassionate sentiment from “the Religion of Love” (i.e. Christianity), which was founded by the man who famously delivered the Sermon on the Mount.

As I’ve blogged before, Wiley is not some “fringe” preacher that no one pays attention to. He is, in fact, quite influential, and well-known and respected in Religious Right circles. He’s served on the board of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant organization in the country and the “flagship” denomination of the Religious Right. He was also Alan Keyes‘ vice-presidential candidate in 2008 (on the “America’s Independent Party” ticket).

I’m not quite sure why Drake is concentrating solely on the 219 House representatives who voted for healthcare reform and isn’t praying for the deaths of the Senate members who voted the same way … but I’m sure he has his reasons. Those reasons may not make sense, but I’m sure he has them.

Also, Jesus Christ himself was a healer, so I’m not sure how or why Drake views healthcare as “Satanic” … but he does. Again, I’m sure he has his reasons, but I doubt they’d be comprehensible to anyone but another ferocious, delusional fundamentalist Christian religionist like himself.

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If you haven’t already figured it out by now, the Religious Right has gone insane. Completely, totally, and utterly insane. They were driven to this state by sheer frustration at having been voted out of control of Congress (in 2006 with further losses in 2008) and the White House (in 2008). They’re so insanely angry that they no longer even understand what they’re saying or doing. An example of their crazy outrage can be seen in their comparison of healthcare reform with Herod’s massacre of the innocents, as reported by Sarah Posner at Religion Dispatches:

Religious Right: God Should Kill Health Care Reform to Save America from Herod

It’s no secret that the religious right is opposed to health care reform (a.k.a. “death panels,” “government takeover,” or “Obamacare”) but as the Senate races to the winter recess with its bill that’s controversial even to progressives, the religious right is using new Christmas-themed rhetoric to rally the base to oppose it. …

The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference whom Sojourners’ Jim Wallis has labeled “one of the most hopeful young Christian leaders of our time,” led the charge for this narrative in last night’s “prayercast” co-sponsored by the Family Research Council and The Call. (For more on The Call and its leader Lou Engle, see my account of its spiritual warfare movement in opposition to gay marriage from last year.) Other participants on the prayercast included FRC’s Tony Perkins, Republican Senators Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Sam Brownback of Kansas, Reps. Todd Akin (R-MO), Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Randy Forbes (R-VA), and Mike McIntyre (D-NC); as well as Shirley and James Dobson; Bishop Harry Jackson, who recently led an unsuccessful crusade against gay marriage in the District of Columbia; and Pastor Jim Garlow, a leading proponent of California’s Proposition 8 who claimed last night the health care bill violates the Ten Commandments. …

In the prayercast, Rodriguez prayed:

Heavenly father, righteous God, in this season as we celebrate birth of our savior, the one who came to give us life, everlasting life abundant, we come in His name to intercede for that very gift of life. Father, the same spirit of Herod who 2000 years ago attempted to exterminate the life of the Messiah today lives even America. …

Get it? If you’re pro-choice, you’re like Herod, trying to wipe out an army of anointed ones, a battalion of Esthers — you’re a co-conspirator on a massive death panel for Christianity.

I hardly know what to say about this, except that it doesn’t surprise me. The Religious Right has been flirting with collective psychopathology almost since its inception. They have existed in a virtual state of denial about reality, for decades now. It only stands to reason that their electoral collapse, which began some 3 years ago now, has driven them over the cliff of emotion, and into the abyss of raging, sanctimonious, paranoid insanity.

As far as I’m concerned, they no longer can be reasoned with. There is no amount of rationality that can reach people who think this way. The Religious Right must be written off as collectively mentally ill and beyond redemption. We have no other choice … because we just cannot allow people this insane to be running our country. It just can’t be permitted any longer.

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Of all the crazy things to be included in the healthcare reform proposals, this one may be the craziest. It’s so crazy, I had to check it out to be sure it was true … and it seems to be genuine (unlike Sarah Palin’s famously false “death panels” scaremongering). The Los Angeles Times reports that prayer treatments may be included in universal healthcare:

Backed by some of the most powerful members of the Senate, a little-noticed provision in the healthcare overhaul bill would require insurers to consider covering Christian Science prayer treatments as medical expenses.

The provision was inserted by Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) with the support of Democratic Sens. John F. Kerry and the late Edward M. Kennedy, both of Massachusetts, home to the headquarters of the Church of Christ, Scientist.

The measure would put Christian Science prayer treatments — which substitute for or supplement medical treatments — on the same footing as clinical medicine. While not mentioning the church by name, it would prohibit discrimination against “religious and spiritual healthcare.”

That’s right folks. Prayer could be funded as a treatment (or rather, more accurately, as a substitute for treatment). Of course, Christian Scientists* are thrilled and have no idea why anyone would object:

Phil Davis, a senior Christian Science Church official, said prayer treatment was an effective alternative to conventional healthcare.

Of course, clinical studies of prayer as a medical treatment show it to be anything but “an effective alternative” … but hey, when you’re a religionist, little things like “facts” hardly ought to get in your way. The story goes on to point out other problems with this:

Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a group of atheists and agnostics that promotes separation of church and state, said the opportunity to receive payment for spiritual care could encourage other groups to seek similar status.

The problem is not solely limited to religion. It could be used to force the government to reimburse for any unproven treatment; all someone has to do is set themselves up as a religion (even if it isn’t really one), make the treatment — whatever it is — a basic tenet of the (phony) “faith,” and force the government to pay for it.

Nice going, Senator Hatch. Every kook and oddball with some goofy idea for a medical “treatment” is going to declare him- or herself the “prophet” of a new religion and force government to pay for it … based on your precedent.

Note: Despite the name of their church, there is nothing “scientific” about Christian Science. It is not a “science,” it’s a religion. Period.

Hat tip: Religion Dispatches blog.

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The anti-vaccine movement, about which I’ve blogged before, has found a new demographic to exploit — healthcare workers in New York state — and a new vaccine to bellyache about — the H1N1 (aka “swine flu”) vaccine that will be released soon (as the CBS News Taking Liberties blog reports):

Health care workers are planning to take to the streets Tuesday at a rally in front of the Albany, N.Y. state capitol to protest mandatory vaccination.

The rally is intended to call for “freedom of choice in vaccination and health care” and to protest mandatory vaccination for influenza and the H1N1 swine flu. “This vaccine has not been clinically tested to the same degree as the regular flu vaccine,” Tara Accavallo, a registered nurse on Long Island, told Newsday. “If something happens to me, if I get seriously injured from this vaccine, who’s going to help me?”

Well, of course the H1N1 vaccine hasn’t had the decades of testing that the conventional flu vaccine has. It never will have that amount of testing until more decades have passed; if the vaccine is never released until that length of time has passed, any chance to arrest H1N1 will have been lost. They may as well never develop an H1N1 vaccine, if this is the standard that must be met. Of course this is foolish … and of course healthcare workers know it. The report continues:

State Health Commissioner Richard Daines, who is probably feeling a bit of political pressure after deciding that the Empire State will go where no other state has, released a lengthy open letter last week that concludes: “We, as health care workers, owe it to our patients and to society in general to demonstrate our confidence in those scientific standards. Even more importantly, we should reconfirm our noble commitment to the tradition of putting patients’ interests first by supporting the mandatory influenza vaccination requirement.”

What should be noted, too, is that New York state … and the metro NYC area … were “hotbeds” of H1N1 occurrence in the US. Containing this virus in New York is much more important, and will have a greater effect on transmission around the country, than elsewhere.

Next related item:

Outside the realm of healthcare workers in New York state, the irrationality surrounding vaccines has hit new highs, and has led to truly strange, if not utterly dangerous, things like “swine flu parties” (as reported by US News & World Report):

[Question:] I’ve heard that some parents are throwing “swine flu parties” for their kids with the intent of exposing them to the virus now, while it’s mild, so that kids have enough immunity to fight the virus off. Is this a good idea?

[Answer by] Judith Palfrey, M.D.: While parents want to protect their children from infections, exposing them to illness is not a prudent practice. I asked Dr. Thomas Sandora, the director of infection control at Children’s Hospital in Boston, to give his advice. Here’s what he had to say:

“Swine flu parties are a dangerous gamble and a big mistake. The novel H1N1 influenza virus is predicted to be the predominant circulating strain of flu in the country this winter. It is true that infection with an influenza virus can produce immunity to that strain—that’s the principle by which vaccination works. However, catching this novel H1N1 flu virus can be extremely dangerous. …

“The idea of parties designed to expose children to infections is not new—in the past, some people have hosted ‘chicken pox parties’ in an attempt to expose their children to varicella, often with the goal of avoiding vaccination. But chicken pox can also have fatal complications, so it’s a huge gamble. In my opinion, intentionally exposing your child to a potentially fatal infection is never a risk worth taking.”

I’d never heard of “swine flu parties” before and have no idea how common they are. For all I know they’re just an urban legend that no one actually takes a chance on. But if they are happening, all I can say is — in the words of G’Kar on Babylon 5 (episode “Revelations”) — “Weep for the future; weep for us all.” Because we’ll have fallen into a chasm of irrationality out of which we may never be able to climb.

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